Game of Thrones Starts, Walking Dead Ends, and How They Die Matters

I love and thrive off of endurance events. Long mileage. But all mileage isn’t equal, all 20 mile runs aren’t the same, and all 1,216 page books aren’t as heavy.  I just finished Storm of Swords, or as I think of it, Game of Thrones part 3, and it was 1,216 pages. Longest book I’ve read,  I think, surpassing The Historian which is a high-brow, artsy Dracula story I read entirely on the toilet.  But I carried this recent book with me wherever I went.  I read it in three time zones, three countries (USA, Mexico, Jamaica) and inside of four airports (Flint, Detroit, Atlanta, Houston) but all of it was in a state of wonder and intrigue.

I’m trying to keep up with the HBO series, and I stick to the adage, ‘book before movie’.

I’ve had my share of dungeon and dragons 20 sided dice in my hand, so I let my Geek flag fly. This series is full of high drama. It’s been called Sopranos meets Lord of the Rings.  Every human trait across the spectrum is magnified. Treachery and beguile, bravery and honor.  The characters are rich and divinely human.  The story doesn’t read as much as fantasy as it does detailed, historical fiction.

Characters die. Characters you think will never die, well, they die. Characters you hate so much you want them to live. Well, they die. Characters you love and hope their good fortune will be evidence of a higher and beneficent God. Well, they die too.

 But after the first major death in the first book, what I have realized is, their deaths make their lives stronger. The way they died, and at whose hands, ripples through the 7 kingdoms showing the extent of their influence.  In fact, when King Eddard died, I have likened it to God being killed, since he is the most moral and steadfast of all, and the rest of the books are simply the lesser humans running around and bumping into each other trying to make their way in a Godless world.

So, I will be watching closely at the Season 3 opener. I can’t tell if the HBO series is even worth watching without having read the books because I think of it more as a companion to the novels rather than it’s own entity.

When I get to choose my magic super power, or if I rub a lamp and a Genie comes out with just one wish, it may be to bring a literary character to life, and I will be choosing Daenerys Targaryen, mother of Dragons. 

And I want my daughter to act like Arya and marry a man like Jon Snow (she already tells me “you know nothing, daddy” so it’s a perfect match.)

 The Walking Dead Season Finale

On the same night Game of Thrones begins, there’s the season finale of The Walking Dead.  Another high drama, more pop-culture but deliciously packaged series.  Like Game of Thrones, people die. Yes, they have important people die.  Their deaths are felt long after they are gone, Sophia and Shane, for example.  And how they die, and at whose hands, is as significant as how they lived.

This is perhaps most evident when Darryl Dixon, bad-ass Darryl with the sweetest of hearts, has to off his brother in a memorable list of fratricides with Cain and Able at the top.

And here’s where I get artsy.

Notice that Darryl doesn’t use an arrow? Anybody else think this isn’t significant? Darryl shoots everything with his crossbow. An army of Zombies have died with his arrows.  But not his brother Merle.  First Darryl kicks him, then he pushes him, angry at him for becoming a zombie, and saddened with the burden of having to put his brother down. Then he chokes him, and you get the feeling he’s reliving all the abuse he’s had at his brothers hands, only this time he’s the one overpowering his tormentor.

Finally he knives him… a final cathartic release of his rage. His beloved brother has turned, and now he can definitely never feel the closeness he had hoped for. Angry at his brother for being an ass, angry at wanting to be close to him, as if Merle were the surrogate father.

There’s no way an arrow to Merle’s head would have let Darryl have had this cathartic experience.

One last note. If I’m Michonne, I’m taking my sword and swinging it through Rick’s neck, I don’t care if he changed his mind.

 Important people die, but how they die, and at whose hands, says as much about them as how they lived.

o=o=o=o

Mark Matthews is the author of STRAY and The Jade Rabbit. You can find out more about Mark and his work on his website: Running, Writing, and Chasing the Dragon.

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